- Lloyd Rothwell
Spotless Stadium – Greater Western Sydney Giants
Photos by Lloyd Rothwell, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57
Sydney Olympic Park, NSW 2127 Australia
Greater Western Sydney Giants website
Year Opened: 1998
Giants of Sydney
Spotless Stadium at Sydney Olympic Park was built to serve as the main baseball stadium for the Sydney 2000 Summer Olympics and as the new Sydney Showground, home of the Royal Agricultural Society. This boutique stadium currently has a capacity of 25,000.
A number of teams and sports have utilised Spotless Stadium over the years. The Bulldogs of the National Rugby League (NRL) called the Showground home for the 2001 season before moving across the boulevard to ANZ Stadium. For the summer of 2014/15 the Sydney Thunder, who had previously been based exclusively at ANZ Stadium, played several games at the venue, with the experiment likely to continue.
The Greater Western Sydney (GWS) Giants entered the AFL in 2012. GWS represents Western Sydney, southern New South Wales and the ACT (each season they shift several home games to Canberra). With Western Sydney playing an increasingly large role in the national consciousness, it made sense to base the city’s second AFL club west of the Anzac Bridge.
Initially the club had ties to the Blacktown area in the far western suburbs. They’re now based mostly at Homebush. Critics have been quick to jump on this, but the reality is that the Giants are still cementing their foothold in the region. They’ve got a significant battle on their hands too. Sydney is a notoriously fickle market, with rugby league and football (soccer) traditionally more popular than AFL. Plus they are competing with their popular crosstown rivals, the Sydney Swans.
GWS predictably struggled through their first couple of years, but have gradually matured into a respectable force on the field with a pleasing game day stadium experience.
Food & Beverage 5
Simply put, the food items at Spotless Stadium are streaks ahead of those normally found in Australian sporting venues. It’s a refreshing change to see such a wide variety of options, all of reasonable quality. The one thing that does meet pre-conceived ideas of stadium food at Spotless Stadium is the price, but the choices available make the dent in your wallet much easier to take.
They say variety is the spice of life and that is true at Spotless Stadium. Take your pick of outlets including Mick’s Bakehouse (pies), Wally’s Hot Dogs (hot dogs), Jimmy’s Catch (fish and chips), Kebabish (kebabs), Bell’s Kitchen (burgers), Wok ‘n’ Bowl (Asian), and Subway. Quality is universally good, but expect to spend somewhere around $15+ per person for a decent meal and a drink. The Dessert Bar is also universally popular, yes, even at the footy in the winter. Any queues are well managed, with the longest wait likely to be for an ice cream.
The offerings at the bar are fairly standard. Tap beer is Carlton Mid ($6), with Cascade Premium Light ($6). Red, white and sparkling wine are $6 while mixed drinks (Beam and Cola, CC and Dry, and Vodka) are $8.50. Soft drinks are priced at $4.50.
The pies at Spotless Stadium are among the best you’ll experience at a sports stadium – there’s no soggy lukewarm pre-packaged pies here. Grab one on your way to your seat as a starter and then choose a main depending on what you feel like on the day. If you’ve got the kids with you then they’ll want dessert too.
The Giants as a club have worked very hard to create a memorable experience at Spotless Stadium. Expect plenty of opportunities for engagement and special events. Average crowds are still only around 10,000, but with on-field performances quickly improving, hopefully this number will grow. There’s generally a healthy smattering of opposition fans now living in Sydney who take the opportunity to see their team play live.
The vast majority of the crowd at Spotless Stadium are currently accommodated within the seating bowl, with only a smattering in the stands. All the seats in this area are on a gentle slope and therefore are fairly close to the action while offering a good view of the entire playing surface. There’s a single large video screen at the northern end of the stadium and a small number of televisions behind the ground level seating on the eastern side. Both teams have their benches on the western side of the ground.
Expect a pregame build up with interviews from the GWS media department, typical crowd engagement activities in between quarters, and junior AFL during halftime. These are fairly standard, however the Giants often have special promotions and post-match entertainment, and kick-to-kick on the ground after full time. The most recent match we attended saw Aussie rocker Shannon Noll performing at the main break and after the final hooter.
The majority of home team fans are on the southern and western sides of the ground. As these areas have stands behind them they also hold the noise better. Sit here to make the most of the atmosphere, or if you want an afternoon in the sun, sit on the eastern side. If the kids are with you sit at the northern end where there is an interactive play zone under the scoreboard.
The Sydney Olympic Park precinct has over the years been transformed from simply a sports park to an entertainment destination. The park is a popular location for any number of social and family events, in addition to concerts and sporting contests.
There are plenty of dining options nearby. There are restaurants covering fine dining, sushi, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, Italian and modern Australian, along with numerous fast food chains. Personally I think the Ribs ‘n’ Rumps chain offers among the best steaks in the business, so if I’m looking to eat before or after a GWS game, that’s where I’d be headed.
A large portion of the surrounding area is other sporting venues; ANZ Stadium, Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre, Allphones Arena and more. The precinct hosts more than 5,000 events each year, which obviously means that there are often multiple events occurring on game day. This has positives and negatives. The big plus is that particularly when there are major events on, the Park will have more of a buzz about it. You may even have the option of seeing a GWS match before heading over to ANZ Stadium for a rugby league or rugby union game. The most recent day we attended, the NSW Waratahs were playing a night game at ANZ offering a great doubleheader opportunity. More generally, Sydney Olympic Park is located in the inner western suburbs of Sydney, 16km from the Central Business District.
Hotels on site include (in decreasing star rating order) Pullman at Sydney Olympic Park, the Novotel Sydney Olympic Park, Quest Apartments, Hotel Ibis, and Ibis Budget Hotel. Dorm style accommodation is also available in The Lodge, managed by the YMCA.
GSW has been slowly building their fan base as their identity grows. Thankfully they are starting to offer a more competitive and consistent product on the field, meaning they’re more likely to attract and retain casual fans. One negative we found was that lots of fans arrived late and were still getting to their seats for much of the first quarter which is a bit off-putting.
Previously averaging around 10,000 per home game, this number appears to be rising as the Giants improve on the field and develop a lasting relationship with the community. An extra 5,000-7,000 fans per game would be an awesome prospect.
The hardcore GWS fans can be found at the southern end of the ground with the opposition cheer squad at the northern end. The venue is very family friendly which bodes well for the future. The atmosphere amongst the fans has definitely improved in recent times.
Sydney Olympic Park is centrally located within Sydney, with several options for transport. Public transport to the area is good, with driving also possible.
Access is possible by both train and bus. The Sydney Olympic Park train station is almost next door. The T7 line is accessible via Lidcombe station.
If numerous events are on, then expect some congestion both within the major roads leading into the area and the various parking stations. Unfortunately there’s not really any escaping the $25 daily parking fee. The best advice is to arrive early and allow extra time if possible.
Probably the easiest parking station to access for Spotless Stadium is the large P1 on Edwin Flack Ave, but all others are somewhat within walking distance. Either prepay online or before the game to avoid lengthy queues postgame. Once you’ve parked you’ll have a gentle level stroll towards the burnt-orange light towers of Spotless Stadium, with ANZ Stadium on your right and Allphones Arena on your left.
All entry is through the southern end of the stadium with standard bag checks. Tickets are available online or at the gate. There’s plenty of ticket windows open with minimal wait if you haven’t elected to buy your tickets online.
Once inside the stadium Spotless is easy to circumnavigate with plenty of options to stand and watch from different vantage points. The venue is wheelchair friendly and bathrooms are plentiful, clean and not at all busy.
Return on Investment 4
A visit to Spotless Stadium is not cheap but compares well to other national level stadiums and sports when it comes to value for money. This venue is very pleasant and has been well maintained. Expect more once GWS builds a larger and more committed fan base. The cost of parking is the only realistic negative here.
Cheapest Adult Ticket: $27
The big plus here is that it’s relatively economical to take children and there are great family ticket options. You’ll also find the obligatory Footy Record program for sale inside the entry for $5.
The child friendly AFL Playground at the northern end of the ground is a fantastic idea. Plenty of families can be found in the area beneath the scoreboard having a kick, further reinforcing the concept of AFL football.
Merchandise is available at several points around the venue, with plenty of the fan base decked out in Giants gear. Following the match we attended there was entertainment and an autograph session, plus the crowd was allowed to have a kick on the playing surface.
GWS at Spotless Stadium has always had the potential to be a great stadium journey. The giant improvements in consistency on the field sets the club up nicely for the future. Additional growth in fans will only solidify the experience that now exists.